Complexity Explorer Santa Fe Institute


What is Complexity Explorer?

Complexity Explorer is a web-based platform for courses and other educational resources related to complexity science. The website is sponsored by the Santa Fe Institute.

Who is this website intended for?

The website is for anyone who is interested in learning about, or teaching about, complexity science. The interdisciplinary educational materials and courses offered through this website will range from beginner to expert levels, and will provide curricula for instructors to use, ranging from high school through graduate school levels.

What is available through Complexity Explorer?

Complexity Explorer hosts the Santa Fe Institute’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) program, a collection of online courses and tutorials open to anyone. The site also hosts searchable databases of syllabi, glossary terms, and other resources related to complexity science topics.  

In what ways am I allowed to use Complexity Explorer materials?

All the materials on this site are available for your use for any non-commercial purpose. All materials (videos, code, write-ups, etc.) are covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License ( ). This states that you may copy, distribute, and transmit the work under the condition that you give attribution to, and your use is for non-commercial purposes.

Is there any cost?

All materials on this website are freely available to anyone. However, certain course sessions may only be accessible for a tuition fee.  Once the session is closed, the materials (videos and quizzes, but not exams) will be free. See more about tuition payments here


Do I need to register?

You will be able to access most of the materials without registering for an account. You will need to register for an account in order to enroll in online courses and tutorials, to participate in forums on the site, and to receive email updates about the site and about online courses offered through the site. Registration is easy and free!


What is the difference between a course and a tutorial?

Complexity Explorer courses are designed to be similar to a semester-long course, offering the chance to delve into a subject deeply.  Courses are available in two ways: as a course session, or an archived course.  Each course is usually offered in one session per calendar year.  

Complexity Explorer tutorials are short ‘mini-courses’ designed to introduce students to important techniques and to provide illustrations of their application in complex systems.  Tutorials are the fastest way to learn the tools of complex systems science.

Tutorials differ from our courses in a several ways:

  • They are always available; there is no set time to complete them.
  • They have quizzes and homework, but no tests.  
  • Tutorials do not offer a grade or a certificate. 
  • The discussion forums for tutorials are provided for student discussion but are not monitored by instructors or TAs.  If you find an error or encounter a technical problem, please email us at

What is the difference between a course in session and an archived course? 

During a session, the course instructor and sometimes a teaching assistant are on hand to answer questions through email or the course forum.  A course forum is available for students to interact with each other.  During a session, a student can complete graded tests and in some cases peer-reviewed assignments.  When a student completes all tests and assignments within the course session time with an average score of 70% or higher, they can earn a certificate.  
Archived courses are the video and quiz materials that make up a course session, and they are freely available.  No certificate is offered for completing an archived course, and there is no active course forum or instructor help.  

How do I know which courses are free and which are paid?

Courses with a padlock on the icon are paid courses.  If there is no padlock visible on the icon then the course is free.  Paid courses require a minimum tuition payment to progress past the first unit.  Once the course session is complete, the course materials will be free to use under the Archived Courses section.  Learn more about tuition payments and scholarships here

How can I add my certificates to LinkedIn or share them on social media?

Certificates are available as a pdf download and also as a unique, public URL you can link to.  When you click on your certificates you will be taken to that public page.  Copy the URL and share it anywhere you like.   

If you want to post your certificates to LinkedIn, follow these instructions. Navigate to your certificate. If the course session is closed, go to your account by clicking your name at the top right of the Complexity Explorer page.  Go to My Enrollments and then click on the Show 'N' Enrollments in Past Courses text in grey. From there you can click on your past certificates.  Copy the URL of the certificate, and then click on the Add Certificate to LinkedIn button. Fill in the form by putting in the name of the course, the Santa Fe Institute, leave license blank, add the month and year you completed the course, and then add the public URL. 



What is the Santa Fe Institute?

The Santa Fe Institute is a private, not-for-profit, independent research and education center, founded in 1984, devoted to the interdisciplinary study of complexity science.

How can I follow SFI research?

You can follow SFI on FacebookLinkedIn, or Twitter for the latest research news and big ideas from SFI. SFI also publishes  the quarterly Parallax newsletter, which highlights our scientific activities and results. Complexity Explorer courses are also developed around researchers' most recent interests, and their own work is embedded in most courses. 


How can I contribute to this project?

There are several ways to contribute:  by submitting content to be included on the site, by helping to subtitle our videos in your native language, by giving us your feedback, by making a donation to help support this project, and by leaving reviews on our course listings on Class Central.  For detailed information, go to our Support page. 


What if I still have questions?

Please send any questions about this site to

What is Complexity Explorer's Privacy Policy?

Please refer to our privacy policy page

What are Complexity Explorer's Terms of Use? 

Please refer to our terms of use page.